Manley Stacey Civil War Letters

From the collection of the Historical Society of Oak Park and River Forest, Illinois

May 21, 1863

Camp Hayes
May 21st 1863

Dear Father

I received your letter of the 15th, yesterday, & was glad to hear things look so favorable, for your visit, & hope you now will get started in earnest. I do not know who will take Dreyers place, I know who is Lieut Greens choice.  Green says I am entitled to it. I am in a peculiar position now, if I am in the Color Guard, I have things a great deal easier, but if I thought there was a chance for Promotion, I should want to stay in the Co, so between the two, I hardly know what to do.

We had an awful time yesterday. In the morning we finished up the Breast Works, & in the afternoon at 4 PM we marched down to the Review Ground, & had a very hard Drill, then to wind up we charged Bayonets, down a Gully, through Brush, Sticks & all kinds of Rubbish. The Brush was so thick, only one man could get through at a time. After we had charged through here, twice, we Double Quicked it in to Camp. It was very hard, but I did it easier than before.

After we had got to Camp, the Col, Called for three cheers, for the Men that could Double Quick a mile, while the boys were cheering, his horse became frightened, & threw him off. After the 3 hours Drill, we had Dress Parade at 6,45 PM.

I will try & get a Pass, for Union Mills on Saturday, to meet you, all that would be necessary would be for the Col, to sign it, & that I could easily get. I do not think I should have much trouble in getting a pass for Washington. Charlie Cookingham, tried yesterday to get a pass for W. but the Col, told him he could not sign it for a day or two as we were under Marching Orders again. Some think that we shall get to the Front & some of the Militia take our place here, I am not much alarmed about this however Nor shall I care, if you only come down before we start. After your visit, I would rather go to the Front, than not. It would be easier for [us] as we would have a good deal less Drilling

I shall hope to see you here, on Saturday

Love to all


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Manley Stacey

born October 29, 1842

died December 26, 1863

Written during the battle of Gettysburg, July 1-3, 1863

"When we camped last, we could see the wounded coming in, those that were able to walk, and the cavalry horses coming in riderless. This showed us that something was going on...I think this will be an awful battle very soon and of course we are in for it...It is a sad sight to see the wounded brought in on stretchers, the poor boys all covered with blood & as pale as death.

"Last night at 4 PM we were ordered to march and form in Line of battle on our left. After a great deal of confusion, we got formed and then we were ordered to advance, right in the face of the rebel guns who were firing their grape and canisters into us by wholesale...After a great deal of marching and counter marching, we were ordered to charge on a rebel battery. We were now right in front of our canons, advancing on their guns, the rebel sharpshooters in our rear picking off our officers. This was an awful time the shells taking the men down by ranks. While we were marching, a man was shot, and the Blood was spilling all over my face, it perfectly Blinded me.

"At 1 PM we were shelled by 100 guns, all concentrated on the force supporting the battery. There we laid behind a stone wall, the shells passing over us and killing the men all around me. Three men were killed and thrown across me, covering me with blood. While we were laying here, a shell struck a stone in the wall and killed a man throwing the man across my legs and the stone striking me in the back & doubling me up.

"We have got about 18 men now in the Company fit for duty and 150 in the Regiment. We went in the fight with over 400, and have yet now 150."

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